Stuck In A Rut? How Change Does a Mind and Body Good

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2008-10-2723

If you’re stuck in a rut, allow a little change to enter your life. It may do your mind and body some good.

Some of you already know that I went on a short trip out of town to reconnect with friends and family. I actually went home to the place I grew up in Southeast Asia. It was my first trip in many years, and at first, I didn’t feel like I wanted to do it. Why? Because it was far, I hate plane travel and felt that I had too much going on in my own home that I didn’t want to bother taking myself out of my routine.

But I eventually changed my mind and made the trip. And while I was in my home away from home, I realized something. That a little change can be good. And maybe that even bigger changes can be better.

Are You Stuck In A Rut?

It’s easy to get stuck in the relative comfort of your established routine — especially when it’s automatic and familiar. We go to work, we go home, do some errands then repeat the process all over again. On occasion, we have a little leisure time we use to devote to some pursuits. There are some of us who have programmed ourselves with “roles” that we live by and that help dictate our behaviors day in and day out.

When things are chugging along a certain way, we don’t want to threaten the stability of that routine because we want to retain order in our lives. As we grow older, we get more set in our ways and we become less inquisitive, less adventurous, and possibly, even less creative as we find ourselves without enough time to do much else other than the usual. Then there are those who are really in a “rut”.

meditation, fight stress, change, productivity
Find your inner zen anywhere. Photo by iandeth.

Get Out Of That Rut

Want to get your groove back? Try something new or different.

Here’s where I suggest that a little change, or even a little break can go a long way. I’m far from feeling stuck in a rut (as I’ve made some major changes in my life only recently!) but I’ve often felt besieged and sometimes overwhelmed by family and financial responsibilities, so much so that even my health has suffered from it. While it is often the case that we think that change and dealing with uncertainty can cause stress, the opposite can also occur: stress can be caused by our established routine and lifestyle, and that it would take change to relieve it.

A change of pace, a change of surroundings, a change in priorities may all help rejigger ourselves out of a rut. Is all this talk of the financial crisis grating on you? Then stop reading the papers for a while. Is your boring job making you feel like you’re wasting your life? Then develop skills and press on to other opportunities. Are you unhappy about where you are right now? If it’s a temporary funk, then a little patience and determination can help you get through it. Otherwise, seriously think about what it will take to make yourself happier, then shoot for your dreams and goals.

How Change Can Improve Your Well-Being

It’s not unusual to feel that “this is all life has to offer me”. We then throw our hands up in the air and resign ourselves to our mundane existence — it’s human nature to feel this way. But we don’t have to do anything drastic to reenergize ourselves. As I’ve mentioned, even a little change can lead to positive developments for you. Here’s how:

1. Do something different.

How about adding a short activity to your schedule to add some spice to your day or week? Cooking lessons or dance lessons perhaps? Something new and different can be invigorating, especially if it’s a temporary thing. When something becomes permanent, the fun can wear off over time.

2. Stretch your boundaries.

Sometimes, trying something radical or adventurous can light a spark in you and get you to feel inspired. Patrick from Cash Money Life did such a thing by going skydiving. An adventure can be just the thing to ignite a fire in you that you may not know existed or may have lost. Stop feeling “stuck” and instead, find out if there are things that can inspire you.

3. Find other ways to make things work.

You may be used to having things done a certain way. Well, maybe these things can be done better, but you’ll never know unless you consider the alternatives. For instance, you may have been driving the same route to work everyday — but changing things up a little can prove to be interesting. Are there new shortcuts you could take that can save you time? Or if you carpool with a co-worker, you could save some extra bucks. It may seem like an inconvenience, but you won’t know that without trying it out first.

4. Take a break.

Not long ago, I wondered why we don’t take vacations. I’ve heard some people claim that it’s because they enjoy their work so much (and I’ll admit that I’m one of those people who’ve used this excuse). What I’ve discovered is that a break here and there can do wonders for your mind and body. I really shouldn’t say “no” to vacations anymore, but I’d make sure that it’s to well-chosen places we’d actually enjoy (or we’d just be wasting our time, wanting to get back home and to work).

5. Get a different perspective.

Doing the same things everyday can bog you down mentally and physically over time. By meeting new people or going to new places, you may begin to view things differently in a way that can improve your outlook. It can also help you appreciate what you’ve already got. So think outside your box for a moment. If it means that you physically remove yourself from a particular place in order to achieve that different perspective, then do so. Go on vacation and soak up a new culture — by the time you get back, you’ll have a fresh outlook on things.

6. Take a step back, rest and refocus.

It’s tempting to keep plugging away at our work and chores on a daily basis, but before long, we’ll wear ourselves down if we don’t stop and refocus once in a while.

7. Have fun.

Yes, I need to lighten up a little once in a while. 😉 Having fun will brighten your mood and keep the positive energy flowing in your direction.

8. Meditate.

I’ve got friends who insist that I should begin meditating as I have a Type A personality and I tend to be a generally anxious and wired individual (and that’s without a smidgen of caffeine in my system). I’ve relented and have begun trying my own meditative activities, which have somewhat improved my overall sense of well-being.

9. Be alert and open to new opportunities.

I sometimes think “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, referring to myself of course 😉 . But nothing could be further from the truth. By learning new things, developing new skills and honing new talents, you may find out that you’re cut out for far more than your typical job. Could you be destined for a different type of career or an exciting path as an entrepreneur?

10. Don’t fear change — welcome it instead!

Try not to be too anxious or fearful of “change”. It’s usually a good thing as it brings with it possible improvements and developments in your life. We typically experience growth through change, challenges, and even adversity.

You may think of yourself as perfectly happy and satisfied with your life…. or you may not. Either way, you may find that some change — as a breath of fresh air or as a big gust of wind — will do wonders for you. As they say, “variety is the spice of life”.

Copyright © 2008 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Patrick October 27, 2008 at 11:55 am

Excellent article. I always find that I get energized by taking occasional breaks. My wife and I have a week long vacation planned pretty soon, and I’m sure we will both come back feeling renewed. 🙂

Aya @ Thrive October 27, 2008 at 2:03 pm

I totally agree with the things you say, and its especially important to have postings like these at hectic times like these. I think it’s a problem when people have difficulty relaxing or finding things they can enjoy. I know depressed people who don’t do anything besides going to work and coming home to sleep, and they make excuses that work makes them too tired to do anything else. Balance is necessary, and I know that at times that I’ve felt down I somehow picked myself up by trying different things and trying to change my mindset.

Super Dad October 27, 2008 at 2:27 pm

I agree wholeheartedly. I would even say “Even if something ain’t broke, you must still try to fix it!” Make any sense?

Civil Site Consultant October 27, 2008 at 5:00 pm

I’m so much more productive when I live a balanced life. Have you ever worked in an office with someone that put in many, many hours and got nothing done?

Jamie October 28, 2008 at 6:57 am

Firstly I am glad that you had a relaxed safe trip. There is nothing better than being able to relax while on vacation. I agree with you as well. It is great to be able to go on vacation and think about what you have done with your life. I had a similar experience, nothing quite like yours, but similar nonetheless. I went hunting this weekend. I usually can’t go because I have have so many things to do around that season. I used to go as a kid all the time and a friend of mine was really pushing me to go. I finally gave in and told him that I would be interested. It was great being able to relax and reflect on where my life is headed. Thank you for this post.

Donny Gamble October 29, 2008 at 2:52 am

Aww, no need for that. There’s so much crap out there that your higher quality methodologies are pretty damned safe and sound.

AmeriGlide October 29, 2008 at 5:28 am

Wow, a week off, sounds like fun 😉

For me, stepping back is one of the most important ways I clear my head. It can be easy to get too involved in something , to the point that you aren’t really making any headway anymore.

Usually if I take a breather and focus on something else for a little while, I do better when I come back to the first project.

Emily October 29, 2008 at 10:13 am

Love it!!! Yes, sometimes we just get stuck and need a change. Happens when you just keep going through the routines. Routines are good because they keep you going and focused but a break is great because you can then find new ideas and start again with new energy.

Lise October 29, 2008 at 12:02 pm

I think it’s important when you select your vacation to make sure it’s actually relaxing.

I know for some people there’s a temptation to run around seeing all the sights in a location. When factored in with how tiring travel itself is, you end up so tired at the end of your vacation that you might as well need another vacation.

“Staycations” are of course good for cutting out the travel factor.

Eugie October 30, 2008 at 12:38 am

I liked this post,
Since the time I discovered ZEN my life changed dramatically I was in bad mood all the time before I knew it. Now I have total peace and harmony in life and work

Funny about Money November 3, 2008 at 6:44 am

Like some other commenters, I also have come to find airline travel more stressful than it’s worth and surface travel more expensive than I can afford.

But… 🙂 I happen to live in a resort area. One way to vacate without feeling like you’re disrupting your life, if you live in or near such a burg, is to take advantage of the off-season rates in nearby hotels and resorts. It’s a “staycation” away from home: farm out the dog, lock up the house, and spend a lovely weekend loafing at a nice place where someone else takes care of you. Most cities have at least one special hotel or b&b. This is a great way to get out of the rut.

As a trade-off for our amazingly low salaries, we state employees get a lot of vacation time, much of it use-it-or-lose-it time. One way to get yourself out of the rut with relatively little effort is to engineer long weekends by taking one or two vacation days at the psychological moment. When a holiday occurs on a Friday or a Monday, taking one day on each end of the holiday gives you five days to use as you please — and still leaves you with a chunk of vacation time. Even a three-day weekend created by taking an ordinary workaday Monday or Friday off helps a lot.

Calvin Froedge November 3, 2008 at 8:06 pm

Great tips! I work from home and find sometimes I get stuck on just staring at my monitor. I find that just by going to a local cafe or even out to my back deck helps me relax and focus on what I was working on.

LuckyMoneyCat November 4, 2008 at 4:05 pm

You know what helps me get out of a rut, oddly enough? Cleaning! It helps me get refocused. I start with laundry and then go from room to room dusting, picking up and vaccuuming.

A clean house always makes me feel like I achieved something.

no kidding

Robert March 16, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Doing something completely different clears the head. Balance in one’s life allows a more productive business day. Work hard and play hard results in a better life.

Aditya August 10, 2009 at 9:15 pm

Wow, great idea. It is a good idea to stay away from everyone for a few weeks in mountains near the rivers. But I’ve a loving wife and she never leaves me alone 😉

Clara November 27, 2009 at 10:50 pm

Sometimes it’s the things that we resist that are the most beneficial to us. Getting out of your comfort zone often gets rid of mental inertia.

Cheryl from thatgirlisfunny January 3, 2010 at 12:04 pm

What a great list to look at as we launch a new year, a new decade. Number 9 intrigues me. We’ve all walked by or ignored opportunity because it didn’t look like what we expected it to look like or because effort was required or we didn’t want to adjust our routine. This year I’m going to stop and catch ONE! I’ll let you know how it goes.

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